There are many amazing creatures in Africa and each has its own incredible attributes and adaptations that help them to survive. We have listed our top ten animals with cool abilities that are capable of feats we can only dream of and where to find them below.
First up we have the most illegally trafficked animal in the world, the shy and elusive pangolin. Their large, toughened scales cover their skin for protection - and they are the only known mammals with this feature. A startled pangolin will roll up swiftly into a ball, exposing its sharp scales which can be compared to impenetrable battle armour. Did you know that their scales are made of keratin, the same material found in human fingernails? And surprisingly, their closest relatives are actually carnivores such as lions and tigers!
This amazing creature has already made itself known to the world by rolling around perfectly formed balls of dung, but it would appear the dung beetle has a few more tricks up its sleeve in this battle over poop. It is believed that the African Scarabaeus zambesianus is the only animal that uses the polarised light pattern cast by the moon in order to navigate and steer its dung pile in a straight line. Interestingly, if there has been no moonlight, these talented creepy crawlies are suddenly stripped of their navigational prowess and start meandering their balls in anything but a straight line.
Thanks to their superpower sense of smell, bloodhounds are at the forefront of curbing the detrimental effects of poaching in targeted areas such as the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa. The wrinkled skin around their face is perfectly positioned to trap scent particles while their long, drooping ears drag on the floor collecting odors that are then swept into their nostril area. It is estimated that a bloodhound's nose has around 230 million scent receptors giving them a sense of smell that is 40 times more effective than that of humans. They are known to track down poachers over a distance of 21km, proving their heightened and highly specialised tracking abilities.
Among the many powers and perks of being a bat is their ability to fly. Thanks to their special forelimbs which have been adapted as wings, they are the only mammals that can take flight! Another incredible ability of bats is their in-built sonar, also known as echolocation, which enables them to hunt with excellent precision by shooting out high pitch sound-waves into the night and then using the echoes to pinpoint the location of prey. As a result calling a bat an effective hunter is an understatement.
It's common knowledge that birds of prey have eyesight far superior to our own - but eagles soar far above the rest. Nature lends these majestic birds a big helping hand by providing them with eyes that have a high concentration of cone cells. These cells are used by the eagle in perceiving colour, pinpointing rapid movement, and providing exquisitely fine detail. A ridge over each eye to keep the sun out and larger pupils to reduce diffraction also come in handy. Their eyesight is estimated to be 4 times as good as our own which is 4 times the amount of detail we would be able to see.
Scuba diving in Mozambique to witness the critically endangered and rare Dugong is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Growing up to 3 meters and weighing as much as 500kg, these gracious sea cows spend their days floating around and digging up sea grass to eat from the ocean floor. Dugongs breathe in oxygen and need to come up to the surface for air. On average, a dugong can hold its breath for approximately 11 minutes! They have a life span of 60-70 years and are vulnerable to extinction.
This group of underwater creatures, which includes octopuses and squids, possess the power of jet propulsion. Water finds its way into the creature's mantle cavity where it is pressurised and the only water that escapes does so through something called a funnel. When the muscles in the mantle contract, water is pushed with great force back through the funnel resulting in Cephalopods flying through the ocean at great speeds. It is impressive that they are able to control both their direction and speed - which can come in handy for quickly jetting towards prey or away from becoming it.
With some species of hummingbirds capable of beating their wings up to 80 times a second, it's no wonder that they are able to surpass all others in the aerial tricks department. With wing joints designed to aid suppleness in the air and amazing maneuverability, these aerial aces can hover, fly upside down and are the only birds that can fly backward. Their name is derived from the humming noise their wings make while flying.
If you are the prey of a shark you have little hope of escape due to their electroreception ability. A shark has specially designed pores on the top of its head that can pick up the electrical impulses of a prey's movement. These pores link up to a shark's lateral line system which is part of its sensory system. As a result, a shark can snatch prey such as fish with terrifying accuracy even in the darkest of waters.
Capable of speeds up to almost 70mph, the cheetah has zoomed into the number one spot on our list. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals on earth. The only downside to their impressive speed is the fact that they can only maintain it for a very limited amount of time and for short distances. 10 to 20 seconds is the average time that cheetahs can maintain their pace before the African sun takes its toll and they have to take a break. Nevertheless, their speed is a massive advantage when catching prey.